Need more power? If you own a naturally aspirated engine, chances are, you'll make immense power when you install performance turbos. But if you want more boost, removing your factory turbo and installing bigger turbos is the only way to go.
A turbocharger uses the velocity and heat energy of the hot exhaust gases rushing out of an engine's cylinders to spin a turbine that drives an impeller, which compresses more air back into the engine. A supercharger also pumps additional air into the engine. It is still instead driven mechanically by the engine via a belt that runs off the crankshaft or, these days, by an electric motor.
Turbochargers capitalize on some of the "free" energy that would otherwise be lost entirely in the exhaust. Driving the turbine does increase exhaust back-pressure, which exerts some load on the engine, but the net loss tends to be less than the direct mechanical load that driving a supercharger involves.
The turbo's primary drawback is lag. Because a supercharger uses the engine's own power to spin itself, it siphons power—more and more of it as engine revs climb. Supercharged engines tend to be less fuel-efficient for this reason. For developing mega power with instant kick-you-in-the-back throttle response, supercharging is unparalleled.
How Much More Power Will My Engine Make?
Naturally aspirated engines operating at sea level get air at 14.7 psi, so if a turbo or supercharger adds seven psi of boost to an engine, then the cylinders themselves are getting roughly 50 percent more air should theoretically be able to produce about 50 percent more power.
But compressing intake air adds heat, which with the added pressure, increases the likelihood of engine-damaging pre-detonation or "ping," so the timing has to be retarded.
This can limit the amount of time the fuel has to burn and ultimately erodes some of the power gains. Most modern engines running turbos and superchargers also include intercoolers to help remove some of the turbo or supercharger's heat. In the end, the typical expectation is that adding 50 percent more air yields 30 to 40 percent more power.
But of course, it can be more. But that requires strengthening the block, installing new pistons, new camshafts, and new valvetrain components. These upgrades are essential to make your engine handle the power and not make it a ticking time bomb.
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